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Partisan embedding of liberalism: how trade, investment, and immigration affect party support for the welfare state

By Brian Burgoon


Political scientists have long debated how economic globalization influences national social policies, but they have so far not explored the political demands of political parties implicitly underlying such influence. This article explores such demands to see how globalization affects partisan-political demands for the welfare state in industrialized countries. It argues that political parties link globalization to welfare policy, but in ways that differ across parties and faces of globalization. First, globalization can be expected to spark support for welfare policies as compensation for globalization’s risks, but given the constituencies and traditions of parties, this applies more for left than for right or other parties. Second, this dynamic is different for immigration than for trade or investment because migration poses fiscal pressures and threats to solidarity that can dampen enthusiasm for welfare compensation and spark calls for welfare retrenchment. Analysis of party manifestos in 23 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries from 1960 to 2004 supports this view that some but not all parties embed some but not all liberalism.


Globalization, welfare policy, compensation, party platforms, embedded liberalism, trade, immigration, foreign direct investment

Publication details

Comparative Political Studies (2012), 45 (5), 606-35. doi: 10.1177/0010414011427132

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